As an employee of Huntsman Cancer Hospital and a very healthy person, I never would have thought that cancer would happen to me.
I did not have any family history or any risk factors. I eat well. I am a cyclist and consider myself an athlete.
I am grateful for the Huntsman mammography tech for being thorough as my cancer was originally found in the left axillary lymph nodes, not in the breast. Not knowing where the cancer was coming from was scary. After further testing, my cancer was found in the left breast, left axillary lymph nodes and lymph nodes above my collar bone.
I knew from observing my patients that a positive attitude would make a huge difference in my treatment. I continued to work full time. Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it. I just didn’t know any different.
I knew that I would lose my hair about 3 weeks into my treatment, so I made the transition to a short haircut prior to starting treatment. Hair grows back so you just have to make the best of it.
In all honesty, with feeling so sick and exhausted during treatment I was thankful not to have to worry about hair. I did not realize how much work hair is until I did not have it. It was hard enough just to shower and get dressed in the morning. And I loved the little beanies that I was able to wear more now.
I finished four months of chemo, then surgery, followed by six weeks of daily radiation.
As my hair grew back, my mom suggested that I do a fun design in the back. She sent me several ideas. Two were geometric patterns and the third was a spider web. Halloween was coming up so I sent the photos to my hairdresser. The Spider Web was a huge hit with my patients, friends, and anyone who saw it.
On Halloween, I came to work with 2 black plastic spiders glued on the web.
My patients wanted to know what I would do next. I got a lot of attention with patients wanting to see the back of my head each time they came in. My mom found some more designs and once again I sent them to Kari, my hairdresser. My design for December was a Snowflake. I had so much fun with it and felt so festive, an infectious and positive feeling.
Hair grows faster than we think it does. The designs need to be touched up every 10 days or so.
You have to make the best out of your situation. This is not always easy. Some days are hard to get through but, in the end, a positive attitude is key. You have to have fun and remember to smile, to laugh whenever you can­—even if it is at yourself.